Growth rates have continued to push on over the last week, with average growth across the country at 69kg DM/ha. This is 15kg DM/ha above the 10 year average for this time of the year, which explains why many farmers are now looking at surplus grass building ahead of them.

The target average farm cover (AFC) for 1 September depends on stocking rate (SR). Farms stocked at 2.5 LU/ha should now be targeting an AFC of 750kg DM/ha, while the target AFC for farms stocked at 3 LU/ha and 3.5 LU/ha are 990kg DM/ha and 980kg DM/ha respectively. High growth rates have meant many farms that were behind target in the middle of August are now on target, or even ahead of target.

Building grass too early

Although we are targeting to build grass to keep cows and cattle out for longer with grass in the diet, there can be issues with building grass too early. Achieving good graze outs is essential at this time of year, to ensure there is high-quality grass in the last round. This makes achieving good graze outs in the last round more achievable, which in turn, results in better winter growth and higher-quality grass in the spring.

Average farm cover should peak in mid to late September and at that point, the heaviest covers on the farm will be between 2,000kg DM/ha and 2,500kg DM/ha. If you are already grazing covers this heavy, it is likely that covers will be hitting 3,000kg DM/ha if not higher by mid-September, given that the forecast for the next week is good and growth rates are expected to hold.

Ideally, every farm should have a grass budget completed at this stage, as this outlines specific targets for the farm. If you find you are more than 100kg DM/ha ahead of the target AFC, now is the time to remove surplus grass and make the most of high growth rates to get these paddocks back into the rotation